Nick Marchington turned 22 years old three days ago. He then flew from the UK over to EPT Prague, and today he’s in the mix in the €10,300 High Roller.
It’s safe to say that Marchington–who leapt onto the scene in July with a ninth-place finish in the World Series of Poker Main Event for $1.525 million, his first-ever live cash–is one of the youngest players in today’s field; a field containing many of the best players in the game.
Throughout the second half of 2019, Marchington has managed to achieve and maintain a level of success which many of his poker peers can only dream about. Just a month after his WSOP breakthrough he locked up a €98K score at EPT Barcelona in a €10K side event and has continued to record great results both online and live ever since.
Not bad for a guy who, prior to July, had predominantly played online cash games from home.
We sat down with Marchington in Prague to find out just how the heck he has managed to do all of this, and how other young up-and-comers could reach the high stakes too.
PokerStars Blog: Hi Nick, how has your first EPT Prague been so far?
Nick Marchington: Poker hasn’t been great, but I’ve loved Prague. I hope to come back for a holiday. The food is so cheap and so good, compared with other places I’ve been to this year. I had most of the day off two days ago and checked out the Old Town, it’s lovely around there.
The past six months must have been a whirlwind for you. With the year coming to an end, how do you feel looking back?
It’s definitely been a life-changing year. It’s been my first year as a professional poker player, and it makes it feel like it was the right decision to take the plunge. There have been a lot of crazy moments and a lot of exciting moments, and I definitely love poker just as much now as I did at the start of the year. I’m excited for what’s to come.
It really is impressive what you’ve managed to achieve. The results just keep on coming.
Yeah, I’ve definitely been on a really nice heater, which always helps. I’ve been on the grind, trying to go to as many live stops for main events around the world. I’m quite new to those, but it’s nice to get in the mix. Online is still the main thing for me though, mostly cash games but some tournaments as well.
With your confidence high after the WSOP final table, did you instantly feel comfortable sitting down in these €10K high rollers?
At first, it was really tough as I didn’t have much live experience. But as time has gone on, I’ve really tried to consciously improve on that aspect of the game. I’m still working on it though.
It’s refreshing to see someone so young have such success and find their feet among the high roller crowd early on. What would you say to other young players hoping to follow in your footsteps?
In terms of being young and coming through, I don’t actually think it’s as hard as people say. I think if you really put the hours in, you can do it. There’s nothing stopping you from reaching the high stakes. It just comes down to you using the tools that are out there. I wouldn’t say it’s easier now than when poker overall was softer, but with the introduction of solvers, there is so much stuff that you can just do on your own. It makes it very achievable.
In the past, the more common way of improving and rising through the ranks was getting together in a group with other good players and sharing ideas. Do you consider yourself part of a group, or are you more of a lone wolf?
I would say I’m definitely on the lone wolf side of things. I’m the stereotypical basement kid when it comes to grinding online.
In terms of someone else doing what I’ve done, it really could be anyone. There was another young guy from the UK in the WSOP Main Event who finished 27th–Oli Bithell–who was only 21 as well. He’s a very talented young player, and that’s definitely not the last you’ve heard of him. I think he’s backpacking around Asia right now, but he’s already very successful. He plays in some of the very big cash games in Asia. There are a lot of young crushers who are doing a lot better than me too. I think Michael Zhang is only a couple of years older than me, but he’s in a completely different league.
Have you reached out to any of the other young players you respect?
The WSOP this year was my first proper live trip, and it was the first time I’d actually seen those faces. It was almost like they weren’t real people. I’d just seen them on TV and had always been watching them on final tables. Then I was seeing them in person.
I definitely awkwardly went up to a few of those guys to say hi, especially some who I had played against online. Now I’ve got to know some of those guys a bit better which has been really nice. It has been amazing to learn from them, not just in the poker sense but in the general sense of learning from men and women who are really successful in what they do.
As cash games were your bread and butter prior to tournament success, do you try and play some live cash while on the road?
I try to play a mix of both. I’ve played some cash games here in Prague, but only two short sessions. Ideally, I’d play more cash at live stops, but it depends if there are big enough games running. I still don’t mind playing the €1K tournaments, I find them really fun, so even though it might make more sense to grind a cash game, if there isn’t a really big game running I’d rather just play one of the smaller tournaments.
In terms of skill, I’m definitely nowhere near one of the top guys in these €10Ks or €25Ks. I would like to be one day, but I still feel like I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.
What do you think it will take for you to take the next step?
A lot of it comes down to precision, knowing situations, and knowing what to do. In tournaments, there are so many different things you need to be good at. In the early levels, it’s deep stack play, in later levels you’re short-stacked, then you’ve got bubbles and playing into the money, and then there are final tables. A lot of different skills go into it, and I think you can only truly be elite if you hone all of these skills extremely well. I’m not even close to believing I’m there yet.
I spoke with British high stakes pro Ben Heath earlier this trip and he said he had considered leaving poker in 2018 as he had become a professional at a young age like you have, and questioned whether he had chosen poker, or if poker had chosen him. What are your thoughts on that?
Right now poker is pretty much my life. I’m so passionate about it and I love it so much. I don’t feel like I’ve reached my peak yet, or at least I hope I haven’t. I’d like to be playing the higher stakes and the biggest tournaments one day and to do that I know I still have a lot of work to do.
I’d like to pursue other things eventually, but I always see a common answer from every guy who is asked that question saying “In three years I think I’ll be done with poker” and then six years later they’re still doing it. I think that everyone who gets to this point, whether it was accidental or not, you have to love it. You have to love both the good and the bad, and live the lifestyle.
I feel very fortunate that I’ve managed to be successful at this game. I could very easily still be at university or have just finished and been starting a graduate job, which is fine. It’s a great thing to be doing. But I’m very fortunate to be playing high stakes and have good money opportunities.
Finally, do you have any new year’s resolutions?
I actually want to play a little bit less in 2020. It’s good to put in the hours, but I think I’ve been playing a bit too much. It’s important to have balance. I want to focus more on health and fitness, whilst making sure I’m doing all the study I need to. But yeah, I’d like to leave the basement a bit more.